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Legislative Update: WIA, Budget

Friday, March 30th, 2012

House Introduces Workforce Investment Act

The House this week introduced a comprehensive Workforce Investment Act reauthorization proposal, H.R. 4297, The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012. This builds upon three separate bills introduced earlier this session by Reps. Virginia Foxx (NC), Rep. Buck McKeon (CA), and Rep. Joe Heck (NV). Rep. Foxx’s earlier bill, the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act, allowed states to submit a unified plan encompassing two or more job training and related programs, including both Perkins secondary and postsecondary programs. Under Foxx’s bill, Perkins funds would have been eligible to be consolidated into a Workforce Investment Fund and used for workforce activities. We shared our opposition to this proposal with the members of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and we are happy to report that new language was added to the Workforce Investment Improvement Act that singles out Perkins as the only program that cannot be consolidated in the unified state plan.

House Passes Budget Resolution

Yesterday the House passed the FY13 Budget Resolution introduced by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) by a vote of 228 to 191. This proposal would cap federal spending at $1.028 trillion, which is $19 billion below levels set by the Budget Control Act and the level that the Senate is plans to use.  Such a large difference between the chambers sets up another potentially long and drawn out appropriations process.

Duncan Testifies Before Congress on Budget
This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee to discuss the Administration’s FY13 Budget, much like he did last week before the Appropriations Labor-HHS- Education Subcommittee.  There was push back from this committee about the focus in the President’s budget on new competitive grant programs, as opposed to the long-standing formula programs. Secretary Duncan also spoke about the value of community colleges and the need to increase capacity to meet the growing demand of individuals seeking to upgrade their skills.

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: CTE Floor Speech, ESEA

Friday, February 17th, 2012

House Member Highlights CTE in Floor Speech

Rep. Jim Langevin (RI), co-chair of the Congressional CTE Caucus, took to the floor of the House yesterday morning to shine a spotlight on CTE and its effectiveness in his state of Rhode Island. National Grid, the primary utility in his state, and the Community College of Rhode Island have come together to offer a program that allows students to earn a certificate in energy utility technology and gives them the opportunity to become new employees.

Mr. Langevin also called on his fellow members of Congress to support the President’s Community College to Career Fund, which would invest $8 billion over three years to advance partnerships between community colleges and businesses, such as National Grid.

NASDCTEc was pleased this week to have Mr. Langevin author a guest blog on the importance of CTE.

House Holds ESEA Hearing

Yesterday the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on two recently introduced pieces of ESEA reauthorization legislation, the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act. Chairman John Kline (MN) stated in his opening remarks that these bills provide flexibility to States and districts around teacher evaluation systems, standards, and assessments. Ranking Member George Miller (CA), however, warned that Congress should not promote flexibility at the expense of accountability and that legislation must lead to better outcomes for students.

Rep. Tom Petri (WI) remarked that there are many unemployed individuals in Wisconsin, but that there are also many employers looking to fill jobs – good paying, middle class jobs – due to the mismatch between preparation students are getting and the changing job market. He warned that we need address this skills gap or “we are going to be in a world of trouble.” Mr. Petri wanted to know whether these two pieces of legislation would advance the collaborative efforts being made by states and businesses, such as through the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, to prepare young people for the modern world of work, or whether they would create barriers to these efforts. Tom Luna, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction, said that while the federal government’s role is be to hold states accountable, there needs to be sufficient flexibility because while the problems like those described by Mr. Petri are the same in many states, the solutions are not the same.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Budget, NCLB Waivers, ESEA

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Senate Urges OMB to Maintain Perkins Funding in FY13 Budget

A group of Senators led by Richard Blumenthal (CT) sent a letter this week to Jeffrey Zients, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, asking him to maintain FY12 Perkins Act funding for CTE programs in FY13. President Obama is scheduled to release his budget on Monday, and we hope that support from these Senators will encourage the Administration to maintain Perkins funding.

After the President releases his budget, Congress will begin work on their budgets and start the appropriations process. Members of both the House and Senate have expressed interest in drafting “Dear Colleague” letters to their respective chambers to garner support for Perkins Act funding.

Ten States Receive NCLB Waivers

President Obama this week announced that ten states will receive waivers for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements, so long as they implement college and career ready standards and reform their accountability systems. The ten states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. States receiving waivers no longer have to meet 2014 performance targets set by NCLB but must set new performance targets for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps.

“After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my Administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,”  said President Obama. “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them.  Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone.  Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.

Twenty-eight other states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have indicated that they will seek waivers later this spring. Additional materials can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility

House ESEA Bills Include CTE Provisions

Last month the House Education and the Workforce Committee released discussion drafts of two ESEA reauthorization bills. Yesterday, Committee Chairman John Kline (MN) formally introduced the bills, the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.

We worked with Congressional staff, as well as other policy groups, to get elements of the Education for Tomorrow’s Jobs Act (a bill we told you about in the fall), included in both bills. In the Student Success Act, grantees’ local plans will have to include a description of how they use funds to support programs that coordinate and integrate “career and technical education aligned with state technical standards that promote skills attainment important to in-demand occupations or industries in the state and the state’s academic standards and work based learning opportunities that provide students in-depth interaction with industry professionals.”

The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act allows locals to use funds professional development for teachers and school leaders that is “evidence-based, job embedded, and continuous, such as professional development on integrated, interdisciplinary, and project based teaching strategies, including for career and technical education teachers.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Congress Returns, Bills Introduced

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Congress Returns to Work

The House returned to Washington this week, and the Senate is scheduled to return next week. First on Congress’ agenda is to begin negotiations to extend the payroll tax cut, TANF, unemployment benefits, and Medicare doctor reimbursements. The current two month extension of all of these provisions expires on February 29th.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee has made ESEA reauthorization one of their top priorities this spring. However, Senator Tom Harkin (IA) has said that he will not move the Senate’s ESEA bill to the floor until the House proposes a bipartisan bill. This deadlock makes it increasingly unlikely that ESEA reauthorization will happen this spring.

Congress will also get to work on their budget proposals for FY13 after President Obama releases his budget on February 6th. Many advocates are optimistic that the appropriations process will move more quickly and smoothly than in years past because of the caps set by the debt ceiling deal this summer. Much of the delay surrounding the appropriations process has been due to disagreements over the level of funding. Hopefully, the caps will provide a bipartisan starting point for appropriators.

Bills Introduced

America RISING Act

Rep. Laura Richardson (CA) introduced H.R.3748, the America Realizing the Informational Skills and Initiative of New Graduates (RISING) Act, which would provide grants to assist in the cost of compensation paid by employers to certain recent college graduates and to provide funding for their further education in subjects relating to mathematics, science, engineering, and technology.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: ESEA

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Congress is in recess and will return next week.

House Education Committee Introduces Two ESEA Bills

Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee had been working behind the scenes on a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill, but have failed to reach agreement on key issues. As a result, Chairman Kline (MN) announced two partisan bills on Friday focused on teachers and accountability. These two bills, along with three other bills introduced last year, will make up Republicans’ efforts to reauthorize ESEA this year. However, Ranking Member George Miller (CA) has said that if the Chairman proceeds with a partisan bill, he does not believe ESEA will be renewed in 2012.

Student Success Act

The goal of the Student Success Act is to replace the existing federal accountability system with state-developed and implemented accountability systems. More specifically, the bill would:

Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act

According to the committee, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act will “ support additional flexibility in the use of federal education funds, help provide better information to parents on teacher effectiveness, and increase school choice.” Some of the key elements of this bill include:

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Congress Passes Spending Bill

Monday, December 19th, 2011

This weekend Congress passed an omnibus appropriations package for FY12 that includes funding for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education programs. The bill includes a 0.189 percent across the board cut to all of these programs, including Perkins and Workforce Investment Act programs. However, because Perkins saw a 1.5 percent cut to advanced appropriations in October, this new bill will restore all of that funding to the states, except for 0.189 percent.

While any cut to Perkins is unwelcome news, we believe that in this fiscal environment a cut of less than one percent is better than it could have been. We have worked hard to maintain Perkins funding over that last several months and we thank you for all of your support and advocacy. Now on to FY13!

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

 

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, WIA, Job Training

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Perkins Funding Still in Jeopardy

The continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress last month is set to expire on December 16. Having passed three of the 12 appropriations bills, Congress must now pass the remaining nine bills or another CR. Their goal is to package all nine bills in an omnibus bill and pass it next week. However, if this does not happen, Congress can either pass another short-term CR to buy more time, or include all compromised bills in the omnibus and fund the remaining bills under a year-long CR.

Unfortunately, some of these bills, including Labor-HHS-Education, are so controversial that Congress may choose not work out a deal and instead will fund them under a year-long CR. If this happens, the 1.5% cut applied to Perkins Act advanced appropriations in a previous CR would remain. This would mean that states will not get that money back, and it would set the level for Perkins funding lower for next year. But, if a final Labor-HHS-Education bill is passed and it contains level funding for Perkins, then states will get that money back.

So, the fight is not yet over and we need your help! Call your Member of Congress today and encourage them to work to complete the remaining appropriations bills and to fund the Perkins Act at FY11 levels. You can reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators’ and/or Representative’s office.

Bills Introduced

Workforce Investment Act

House Republicans introduced two bills this week that will serve as the basis for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization in the House.

Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act

Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC) introduced H.R. 3610, the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act, which would consolidate 33 of the 47 job training programs identified in a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office as duplicative into four flexible Workforce Investment Funds. These funds would focus on adults, youth, veterans and special populations. This bill would also require states and locals to set common performance measures for all employment and job training programs.

The Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act also allows states to submit a unified plan encompassing two or more job training and related programs. Both Perkins secondary and postsecondary programs are eligible to be a part of a state’s unified plan.

Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (Local JOBS) Act

Rep. Joe Heck (NV) introduced H.R. 3611, the Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (Local JOBS) Act. The goal of this bill is to ensure that the nation’s job training system can effectively provide workers with the skills necessary to compete in the local workforce. To that end, the bill would require that two-thirds of workforce investment board members be employers; that a portion of resources (as determined by the local WIB) be spent directly on training; and that local boards partner with higher education institutions and economic development organizations to better develop job training programs that address the needs of area businesses.

Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act

Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Claire McCaskill (MO) this week announced the Bipartisan Jobs Creation Act legislation which is aimed at creating jobs by cutting taxes for businesses, investing in transportation infrastructure, and consolidating federal job training programs. The bill would be paid for by a surtax on taxpayers earning more than $1 million per year and ending subsidies for oil companies. This bill includes two areas of interest:

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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House Fails to Pass Balanced Budget Amendment

Friday, November 18th, 2011

As part of the debt ceiling deal negotiated this summer, Congress must vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Today, the House voted on H.J. Res. 2, which would stipulate that the government cannot spend more than it brings in each year. The amendment would also require a three-fifths vote by both chambers to raise the debt ceiling and a three-fifths vote to approve a deficit.

The amendment, which required support from two thirds of members to pass, was defeated by a vote of 261 to 165. Four Republicans voted against the measure, and 25 Democrats voted for it.

Democrats opposed the measure because of the impact it could have on an already weak economy. President Obama’s reelection campaign issued a statement yesterday that said: “If passed, the Republican proposal would require deep spending cuts that could jeopardize everything from education and Medicare to nutrition and health programs for at-risk children.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: ESEA, i3 Grants

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Education Department Announces Highest-Rated i3 Applicants

The U.S. Department of Education this week announced the 23 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant applicants who will receive grants, provided that they obtain private sector matching funds by December 9, 2011. The purpose of this program is to provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement and attainment in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.

“Investing in these vital innovations across the country has the potential to dramatically enhance learning and accelerate student performance and to do so cost-effectively” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This round of i3 grantees is poised to have real impact in areas of critical need including STEM education and rural communities, on projects ranging from early childhood interventions to school turnaround models that will prepare more students for college and career.”

Two applicants stood out to me as projects that could be aligned to CTE. First, the North Carolina New Schools Project’s Validating Early College Strategies will partner with 8 rural LEAs to implement early college high school strategies in 18 high schools serving high need students. Second, the goal of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative’s Career and College Readiness Transformations project is to improve student achievement and increased graduation rates, and increased access to and success in college through links between education and work.

You can find more details about all prospective grantees here.

Senate ESEA Hearing

On Tuesday, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of ESEA in response to Sen. Rand Paul’s (KY) objections during the committee markup last month. During opening statements, Ranking Member Sen. Mike Enzi (WY) said that states must take responsibility for accountability and make sure that students are college and career ready in a way that works for students.

Witnesses, who included school superintendents, administrators, teachers, special education advocates and other education policy representatives, discussed the pros and cons of the draft ESEA bill passed by the committee. They spoke about the burdens that the current law has placed on teachers and administrators, as well as the value of local control versus federal involvement in education. Witnesses were concerned about the draft bill’s elimination of performance targets.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Senate Marks Up ESEA

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee met on Wednesday to begin markup the draft Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization bill introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (IA) last week. The markup was threatened with delays when Senator Rand Paul (KY) objected to the Committee meeting longer than two hours after the Senate convened on Wednesday. This is a procedural rule, rarely employed in the Senate, that is almost always waived. Senator Paul was concerned that no hearing had been held on the bill this session (10 were held last session) and he felt there was not enough time to review the bill before the markup. On Thursday, Senators Harkin and Enzi (WY) reached an agreement with Senator Paul that in exchange for dropping his objection, the Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on November 8.

The Committee reported the bill last night by a vote of 15-7. Three Republicans, Senators Enzi, Lamar Alexander (TN) and Mark Kirk (IL), joined all Democrats in voting for the bill. Senator Harkin hopes to bring the bill to the floor for debate and a vote before Thanksgiving.

During the markup, Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) introduced an amendment to expand internships and apprenticeships, with the goal of alleviating dropouts and providing skills training. Because the amendment would require locals to use the money for this purpose, several Senators opposed it, but said they would support it if it were an allowable use of funds. Blumenthal agreed to withdraw the amendment and change the language, but wants to be sure that there are strong incentives for locals to use funding for internships and apprenticeships.

Bills Introduced

Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act

This week Senators Menendez (NJ), Reid (NV), Harkin (IA), Stabenow (MI) and Casey (PA) introduced S. 1723, Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.  The bill contains the provision of the American Jobs Act that provides $35 billion to create or protect education jobs, as well as jobs for police officers and firefighters.  The jobs supported in this bill are not just teachers, but any public school K12 employee.

However, last night the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the bill by a vote of 50-50. All Republicans voted against it, as did Senators Lieberman (CT), Nelson (NE) and Pryor (AR). As result, the bill will not be voted on.

Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act

Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Mark Begich (AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced S. 1675, Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act. This bill aims to increase student access to courses in STEM subjects and provide additional resources to recruit, train, and support STEM teachers.

Grantees must include in their applications a description of how their activities will be coordinated with other programs and activities, including Perkins-funded CTE programs. Local subgrantees must also describe in their applications how grant funds will be coordinated with programs and activities, including Perkins-funded CTE programs.

“If we don’t train our children for the jobs of the future, we won’t be able to compete in the future,” Merkley said. “Whenever I talk to companies like Intel back in Oregon, they tell me that STEM education is key, and in far too many schools, the resources aren’t there to prepare our students for careers in engineering and science. This legislation will help address this deficit.”

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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